Responding to the Civil Grand Jury’s Report on Measure A

June 13, 2024

On June 10, 2024, the Marin County Civil Grand Jury issued a report recommending actions the county could take to further increase its oversight of Measure A public funds to help farming and ranching families continue to use their properties for agricultural purposes.

MALT welcomes collaboration with the county and its agencies on how they choose to implement any changes to its oversight of Measure A as recommended in the Marin Civil Grand Jury report.

MALT, as a nonprofit organization, has numerous policies and structures to help maintain transparency and accountability. These include a conflict of interest policy updated in 2019, publicly disclosed financials, and policies on transparency and governance. Additionally, we have maintained continuous accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) since 2010. 

Since its passage in 2012, Measure A has been tremendously successful, allowing Marin County to invest $19.7 million in farmland preservation. With the support of the county’s Farmland Preservation Grant Program (Measure A funding), MALT has protected 15 farms and ranches totaling more than 9,725 acres through the acquisition of agricultural conservation easements.  

To date, Measure A funding has protected:

Without Measure A, Marin County is at risk of losing productive agricultural land. According to the American Farmland Trust, every day 2,000 acres of agricultural land are paved over, fragmented, or converted to uses that jeopardize farming. In the next 15 years, one-third of America’s farmland and ranchland will likely change hands, as current landowners age and sell. 

MALT has applied for Measure A grant funds to help Marin County meet the goal of its Farmland Preservation Program to permanently protect working agricultural lands in Marin. Since Measure A can only fund up to half the value of a conservation easement, MALT has leveraged matching funds from various sources, including private donors and competitive state and federal funding sources to fully fund the purchase of a conservation easement. Through this MALT has doubled the impact of Marin County Measure A funds.

As part of our LTA accreditation and as defined in the conservation easement agreements, MALT annually conducts site visits on properties with a conservation easement. For easements with funding from the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation ServiceCalifornia Department of ConservationCalifornia State Coastal Conservancy, and California Wildlife Conservation Board, we annually submit reports as required by each funding agency. 

For easements with Measure A funding, we submit written reports annually in the form of a letter that summarizes observations, analysis, and conclusions pertaining to the terms of the agricultural conservation easement – any significant variation (improvement, deterioration, or otherwise) in the condition of the property or the protected values from the conditions identified in the baseline report are summarized and documented. MALT also submits similar annual reports to our other state and federal funding sources for easements.  

Over the next several months, MALT will review the report more in depth and provide specific feedback to help ensure the continuing vitality of the use of Measure A funds to help us meet our shared goals of preserving agriculture in Marin County.

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